The intersection of data science and advertising is one of the most innovative spaces in the business world today. We recently sat down with Audrey Rusch, Oracle’s senior director of activation development, to discuss her work at Oracle, her recent board role at the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), and her advice to young professionals entering the field.
What’s your role at Oracle?
I’m responsible for the organization that develops activation products within Oracle Advertising. We provide intelligent data to help our advertising clients show targeted, relevant ads. Advertisers use our products to help deliver relevant messages at the right time, at the right place, and to the right person. These data products are either identity-based or contextual-based.
How are brands balancing personalization and privacy?
Brands today face challenges negotiating the line between personalization and privacy. There's a lot of awareness evolution happening now that includes regulatory issues, and a broader industry discussion around “where is that line?” It’s different for every advertiser and every person.
There are three parties involved in a digital advertising transaction: the ad platform that serves the ads, the advertiser that creates the ads, and the consumer who receives the ads. Each party has different expectations around personalization and privacy that you try to balance, but it’s never going to be perfect for everybody.
How does the ARF support the advertising industry?
Advertising casts a wide net of creative individuals in both digital and print advertising. And the ARF is building a community of leaders and people with various experiences in that space. It’s an honor to be selected to ARF’s 2021 Women in Analytics Board of Directors, and to collaborate with this group to influence the future of advertising.
What are you looking forward to as part of WIA at ARF?
Advertising industry applications for analytics are as diverse and specialized as the brands in this space. I am interested in learning how others are applying analytics to make advertising campaigns even more successful and in sharing my experience with others who are just getting started in the field.
How important is finding passion in your work?
One of the most important things you can do is decide what industry matches your interests. Today, data is everywhere; many organizations need people to help pull insights out of that data and apply it to an industry or business problem. Find an industry that interests you because there are data problems (and career opportunities) everywhere.
What advice do you have for recent graduates in this field?
Understand that the reason you may have been drawn into data science and analytics in the first place, the algorithms and the modeling, is likely a small subset of your job. So, frame your expectations around what you’re doing in your job.
As a data scientist, your primary job is not to create or code up an algorithm. Your job is to figure out how to use those algorithms to solve business problems and to understand the data.
How does your role (and mindset) change as you transition from “building” to “managing”?
When you think about transitioning to a management or director role, remember that it’s no longer just about your technical knowledge. It's also about your ability to influence others and manage through a team.
A big challenge when you’re shifting from being an individual contributor to a manager is to recognize where you add the most value. As an individual contributor, your value is completing an analysis, doing a good job explaining it, and putting all your energy into a tangible deliverable.
As you get to a director-level role, you are putting your energy into the people who are creating those deliverables. Although the deliverables are still important, it can be challenging to reframe your mindset as your scope of responsibility increases. The value isn’t from you doing the work: it's how you support and enable others to do their work.
How is Oracle Advertising advancing activation?
We’re investing in building out our supply of data that’s not based on third-party cookies. We’re investing in the systems that can then combine those data sets in all the ways we might want to combine them to drive and unlock new insights for our customers.
How will this work?
In addition to envisioning an ID-based future beyond cookies, we’re also focused on how we evolve by combining ID-based information with contextual-based information when you are at that point of ad decisioning. And we are expanding the application of contextual solutions.
Our mission remains the same: how do we help our clients reach their customers more effectively? What's changing is how we do this—and that means interesting opportunities for all types of developers—data scientists and engineers.